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Why I Make My Kids Work


The weather has turned here in our little corner of the Pacific Northwest (note the leaves on the ground). School has started and our basement is beginning to feel chilly in the morning and evenings. Also, blackberries are taking over our house. I am pretty sure they are trying to creep in through small cracks and crevices and strangle us in our sleep…Himalayan Blackberries are not native to the Pacific Northwest, therefore they have no natural enemies. They take over everything!

They are worse than a toddler after bedtime when you finally sit down with Netflix and a bar of chocolate. They know. They creep. They crawl. The poke you with their darn little prickles, threatening tetanus at every turn. 

It was time to face this challenge straight on and kill those invasive biological threats. 


So we armed our soldiers children with weapons of mass destruction (if you’re a blackberry, anyway) and made those kids earn their keep. They chopped. They sliced. They hacked.

And you know what else? They had a whole lot of fun.


We didn’t exactly hear a joyous chorus of  thankfulness when we announced the job. We might have even heard wailing and gnashing of teeth quiet sighs of resignation when we announced the job.


Within half an hour I heard voicing saying, “This is kind of fun” and “I like this”…and chorus of “yeah, this *is* fun”



Because you know what? There is a real sense of accomplishment and satisfaction with a job well done. A three-year old knows this. And honestly, leisure time can’t be enjoyed if it isn’t balanced  with work. 

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Once the blackberries at the side of our house were tamed, it was time to move on to the ever-present job of chopping wood. Thankfully we have spent years growing our crop of workers. The boys love chopping wood. It makes them feel strong. Powerful. Needed.


Which they are. They know this isn’t a superfluous chore, given to them to keep them busy and out of trouble. They know they are needed. Valued. Loved.why-i-make-my-kids-work-6242 why-i-make-my-kids-work-6247

And hard work builds muscle, something my boys are old enough to appreciate.

[In case you’re wondering, the girls chop wood as well, I just happened to be out photographing the boys. We only own three axes.]

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Never be afraid to reward hard work. Whether it is with a hug, a sugar and dye laden popsicle, cold hard cash or just a genuine thanks. 

Hard work builds character.

Working together builds family ties.

Rewarding that work builds motivation. 

Happy Labor Day!



  1. solarmom

    We work hard around here too. This morning’s tasks included digging potatoes and harvesting pumpkins. Last week it included painting the exterior of a new outbuilding, weeding, and creating doors for the new building. We get very few complaints, our kids know that we couldn’t do everything that needs doing without them. They do get a monthly allowance based on responsibilities, but it’s not much.

  2. Melpub

    I bet delicious things can be made with those blackberries, too. I send our kids out to pick them –they grow on the street near our house–and then I dive into my Fannie Farmer cookbook and we eat very well indeed.

    • Renee

      Oh, for sure! Blackberry crisp, and pie and syrup…they taste good, but they are also on a conquest to overtake the planet…and often very hard to get to the actual berries.

  3. Nana Jo

    You have such handsome sons! I agree with your philosophy of work/play balance. My oldest grandson, who just turned 13, would love to have a more frequent opportunity to chop wood! He and his younger brother picked about 40 lbs of plums from the orchard yesterday, and then helped me clean, pare and chop them for both jam and plum chutney. Later we enjoyed the fruits of their labours eating warm plum cobbler and whipped cream. Up here (Kamloops, British Columbia), the new school year for them starts tomorrow (grades 8 and 5). You’re right about blackberries …they have a mind of their own….the bracken war, as my sons used to term it.

    • Renee

      Thank you. I am just a wee bit sad that they are growing up 🙁 Cheers for hard work! And yes, if you live in BC, I know you totally understand my loathing blackberries.

  4. Amanda Mostert

    Hard work is a good way to teach children lifeskills. We paid a very small weekly allowens and then we had a list of jobs they could do for extra money. We had a list of “just have to be done” jobs nobody get paid for like doing dishes and making your bed.

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